What is organic SEO? An introduction to natural search engine optimisation

14 September 2010

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Many people get confused by the term ‘organic SEO’ and what it actually involves. In a nutshell, organic SEO is the process of trying to increase your website’s rankings in the naturally generated Search Engine Results pages (SERP’s).

What are SERP's?

SERP’s are very separate from the sponsored results which companies pay to occupy. Fig. 1 below shows a sample results page from Google for the search phrase ‘low cost marketing leeds’ and indicates the difference between paid and organic search results.

Why should I bother with organic SEO?

Achieving a top ranking in the organic results is the holy grail of internet marketing because it not only costs nothing per visitor who clicks on your link, but also generates a massive amount of additional traffic to your site. Fig. 2 below shows a breakdown on the impact of position in the search results pages to the number of clicks (based on a study on leaked data from AOL’s search query logs in 2006. You can see that sites in first position of the results pages get a massive 41% click through rate (visits to the site). That means that for every 100 times the link appears in the results pages it gets an average of 41 clicks. This is a huge majority, when you see that the total click through percentage for all other links (and there could be millions) after position 5 is only 31%. In addition to these stats, Fig. 3 shows the impact of page position on click through rate (CTR). Here, the first 10 results (which is the page 1) received a staggering 90% of all click through traffic. Page 2 just over 4%, page 3 just over 2%, the 4th just over 1% and all other pages received less than 1% of the total search traffic clicks. What can we take from this data – basically if your website isn’t on page one for the search terms you need, then it might as well not be there at all.

Why is it called 'organic'?

The reason we use the terms ‘organic ranking’ and ‘natural ranking’, is because the results and the order in which different websites appear are generated by the search engines themselves based on their own sophisticated ranking formula – known as search algorithms. The actual breakdown of these algorithms are closely guarded secrets and the reason is pretty simple – If everybody knew  exactly what they needed to do in order to influence the search results pages, then they would no longer be seen as impartial and reliable.

How can you improve your results when they don’t tell you how?

So, you might well be wondering how anybody can go about trying to improve their search engine rankings when there is no guidance on how to go about it? Well, for a start many engines, such as Google do give out pointers as to what makes a well constructed website and it is very important follow these rules in order to design and build a website that is as accessible to search engines as possible. After that, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of ways to affect your ranking. Thorough analysis, keyword targeting, copywriting, competition analysis, link building, meta descriptions, article submissions – these and hundreds of other techniques form part of the arsenal for any serious organic SEO professional. It is only through experience and understanding the right combination of factors needed to get the best results, that you will start to achieve high natural ranking. It is without doubt a complicated and involved process, but as the pie charts above clearly show – the results are most definitely worth it! If you are looking to improve your natural search engine rank, then please contact us for more information.

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